The officials from the Illinois Department of Public Health warn residents that a rat virus affected six people and the number of cases can still increase. Known as Seoul virus, this pathogen can trigger flu-like symptoms.
In the worst-case scenario, the rat virus can lead to renal disease and other severe symptoms. The agency linked the rat virus to two rat breeders in Illinois. Also called ratteries, the two locations are responsible for two other cases which occurred in Wisconsin.
The Illinois rats were sold by the breeders to some residents from Wisconsin. Nirav Shah, the director of the Department of Public Health, says that Seoul virus can’t be transmitted from one person to another. As such, the residents have a low risk of contracting the infection.
Shah added that the agency decided to take precautionary measures by raising awareness among the local communities. The warning is addressed especially to people who might have bought rats from the two affected ratteries.
In case they start feeling sick, they should immediately seek treatment. The public health officials denied providing the names of the affected facilities. However, their location is in east-central and northwest Illinois.
The two ratteries stopped selling pets when they found out about the rat virus. The breeders have joined their efforts with the investigators from the CDC and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services to discover what might have caused the outbreak.
In five cases, the patients experienced no symptoms. Still, Seoul virus can cause rashes, redness of the eyes, blurred vision, chills, abdominal pain, back pain, headaches, and fever. According to the public health specialists, Norway and brown rats are the only species which can carry the rat virus.
Also, it’s not transmissible between other animals. Based on the statistics, Seoul virus has rarely affected the local communities across the country, but the complications might cause acute renal failure.
Humans can get infected with the rat virus if they come in contact with contaminated urine and rat feces which can be found on cage bedding, for example. The Illinois public health officials strongly recommend people to stick to the standard hygiene practices, including washing hands, covering cuts, and using gloves when handling rat cages. Plus, people must refrain themselves from kissing and snuggling small pets.